Southern Downs producers build sheep reproductive facility with help from RAD Grant
19 May 2023
Works are underway on a sheep reproductive facility in the Southern Downs designed to fast-track Queensland’s supply of genetically superior lambs while creating four direct jobs and 11 indirect jobs for Queenslanders as a result of the project.
Arolla Pastoral Company, a fifth-generation family farm business located in Allora and run by James and Carla Pidgeon, is behind the project which aims to improve sheep fertility and the productivity of offspring.
“Instead of it taking us 10 years to get rid of sheep defects by natural birth, it will only take us a couple years through the use of artificial intelligence employed by the sheep reproductive facility," James said.
The dedicated facility, which will feature an embryo centre and automatic feeders, will also enable the careful management of lambs and high standards of animal welfare and biosecurity.
James said that following years of drought Arolla Pastoral Company is specialising in Australian White breed sheep meat due to its adaptability to warm climates, making their enterprise more drought resilient and resistant to market fluctuations.
“The project diversifies our enterprise even more which is so important because we know weather and prices can change really quickly," James said.
The increased number of breeding sheep from the project will not only benefit the wider population of Queensland sheep producers, but also the local Southern Downs economy, which is built on the agricultural industry.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said Arolla Pastoral Company was a family farm business on the Southern Downs with a strong reputation for their forward-thinking and successful sheep breeding.
“Their sheep reproductive facility project will create 15 good jobs for Queenslanders from construction all the way through to the management of the facility and create flow-on economic benefits for the local community," Minister Furner said.
“The dedicated facility will boost the supply of genetically good lambs in Queensland and help satiate the growing appetite for quality sheep meat products.”
The $560,000 project is being funded by a $200,000 RAD Grant from the Palaszczuk Government, and a $360,000 co-contribution from Arolla Pastoral Company.
The company is one of 10 sheep and goat enterprises across rural and regional Queensland which collectively received just over $1.8 million in funding under round one of the RAD Grant program.
The Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA) administers the Rural Agricultural Development (sheep and goats) Grant Scheme on behalf of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.